The curious truth of the matter is that Football Manager just got ahead of itself, and giddily heaped layer upon unnecessary layer of detail onto its perfect core. No longer was it about simply managing the tactics and transfers of your fantasy team, but handling egos and fretting about media relations and dozens of other micro tasks that ultimately distract you from the things that you enjoyed most. But Sports Interactive knows only too well that its statistical opus will never be all things to all people.
Some people evidently love meddling with the training and match preparation and poring over their youth and reserve team prospects as much as others loathe these minutiae. A large chunk of us simply wish SI would just put a 'Championship Manager 2' button somewhere and go back to basics - and that's exactly where its Football Manager Handheld spin-off comes in, with wonderfully refined versions shoehorned into the PSP and iOS platforms. For more than five years, the PSP version has provided the closest approximation of the stripped-down FM experience that many of us naturally gravitate towards, and this year's edition continues to stick doggedly to those sensibilities.
If all you want to do is focus on the team selection, in-game tactics and an occasional dip into the transfer market, then it's all here, and couldn't really be any more intuitive.
If you decide you want a little more depth, then there's a modicum of boardroom, player and media interaction that you can get involved with, but it has been tucked away a little. Happily, there's never any sense of impending failure if you don't bother with expanding your stadium or improving your training facilities, and the game never nags you into doing anything you're not bothered about.follow url
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It's just there to fiddle with if you want it, and isn't overly complicated once you're there. On the downside, some of these features are basic to the point of irrelevance, and the squads aren't as fleshed-out as they could be, with numerous odd omissions of long established players being particularly noticeable. The newly-issued iOS version, meanwhile - a universal app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch - is a different beast altogether. It has no such issues and comes with full, accurate squads including complete reserve teams and many features not present in the far more expensive PSP edition.
For a start, the look and feel is completely different, with a modern touch interface sporting big, bold iPhone-friendly buttons, and an intuitive drag-and-drop system that makes tactical changes and transfer hunting a cinch. The same solid handheld principles apply to the iOS version, with the ability to 'manage' squad selection and tactics on a fairly superficial level if you wish and up to four active nations running at once from a choice of As you'd expect, the point-and-click nature of the game suits touch-screen play down to the ground, and you're never left in any doubt where anything is or overwhelmed with options.
You can even get your assistant to loan out reserve team players for you to give them much-needed experience.
So far, so good. Not so welcome are the presence of the now obligatory anti social options, allowing you to bug your friends by spamming their Twitter or Facebook feeds with news of your progress. Fortunately, it's entirely optional. More interesting is the excellent new Challenge Mode, which offers four familiar pre-defined scenarios, and tasks managers with meeting their stringent objectives - such as saving a bunch of strugglers from relegation halfway through a season or coping with an injury crisis. For the purposes of handheld play, these snack-sized portions of managerial meddling work brilliantly, and help negate the tedious faffing that often goes with getting a game up and running.
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Another trumpeted 'new' addition allows you to play the game 'mirrored' on a big screen via Airplay over Apple TV, providing you have an iPhone 4S or iPad 2. Unfortunately - unlike, say, Real Racing 2 - the game doesn't resize itself to take advantage of your p display, but merely replicates what you're already seeing on the device.
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This was also possible on the previous iOS iteration, so it's misleading for SI to call it a new feature. It's also worth mentioning that the game's 2D match engine bizarrely suffers from noticeable slowdown on iPhone 4S but runs smoothly on iPad 2, while the iPad version simply scales up what you see on the iPhone and feels held back as a result.
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